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A Pragmatist's Take

By Douglas Moran

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About this blog: Real power doesn't reside with those who make the final decision, but with those who decide what qualifies as the viable choices. I stumbled across this insight as a teenager (in the 1960s). As a grad student, I belonged to an org...  (More)

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Considerations on City Council Candidates

Uploaded: Oct 11, 2022
Complaints about difficulties differentiating this group of candidates have become common. Blogger Diana Diamond discussed this in her September 15 ^blog^ just after the first of the major forums for candidates. Normally, I would heed the old admonition to "Pay attention to what they do, not what they say." However, in the current pool of 7 candidates for 3 seats, this is useful for only 2 candidates: Doria Summa and Ed Lauing.
Disclosure: I am working on Summa's campaign. However, I write this in my role as a blogger and not as an advocate for her. I have written blogs on Council campaigns starting in 2014 (section ^Specific Elections^ in my index for this blog: It is easier to use than Palo Alto Online's).

UPDATE: Another forum was held on Thursday, 13 October. Unfortunately, there was a problem recording the video that prevents replay. However, there is a low-quality audio recording in six parts:
^1. Candidates state their positions on whether a state mandate calling for the creation of more than 6,000 homes over the next eight years is feasible.^
^2. Candidates discuss an idea to close the Palo Alto Airport and replace it with housing.^
^3. Candidates debate how to create affordable housing.^
^4. Candidates give their ideas for increasing public safety.^
^5. Candidates say their preferred method of separating the Caltrain tracks from the road.^
^6. Candidates tell the crowd what the city would miss out on if they’re not elected.^

The following may help you think more critically about what the candidates are saying.

A major part of my motivation/goal for writing longer blogs has been to provide readers with information and perspectives that they can use in their discussions of the portions that interest them. About 30% of this blog is the footnotes and Resources section: links -- mostly to spreadsheets -- and explanation about those links. However, the length of this blog still exceeded both my intent and the indications of my outline.

I will start with my general approach for this election and then step through the candidates in decreasing order of monetary contributions received, each in a headlined section. To ameliorate the length of this blog, my intention is to make my comments on candidates understandable without your having read those preceding sections, and to make it easier to look back by bolding key words and phrasing in those sections. That is, you should be able to scroll way down to the sections on the candidates and scroll/search to the background paragraphs as needed. However, the background sections are intended to be useful for this election and for your understanding of future elections. I would have used clickable links to navigate around, but the provided blogging language is intended for short, uncomplicated compositions.

There is a collection of relevant links at the bottom of this blog. I may be adding to this after publication.

I listened to five major forums. The transcripts are auto-generated (by Google/YouTube) and have timestamps. If you want to figure out or confirm a passage you can click on that entry (timestamp or text). This also works when you have toggle off timestamps (3 vertical dots). Those forums are:
• ^Palo Alto Online^, (Sept 13): ^City Council Debate 2022^ (video and transcript) (1:51:04) - 2022-09-13.
• ^[email protected]^ (Sept 15): ((UPDATED: ^2022 Palo Alto Candidate Forum on Housing^. The organizers are a collection of advocacy groups, and it showed.
• ^Palo Alto Neighborhoods^, (Sept 22): ^PAN 2022 CITY COUNCIL CANDIDATE FORUM^ (video and transcript) (1:22:13) - 2022-10-22.
• ^LWV of Palo Alto^, (Sept 29): ^Palo Alto City Council Candidate Forum for the November 8, 2022 General Election^ - (video w/ no transcript) (1:40:50) - 2022-10-01.
• ^Friends of Cubberley^, (Sept 14): ^FOC Forum Candidate 2022^ (video and transcript) (1:13:34) - recorded 2022-09-14; posted on 2022-09-16 on YouTube channel Deborah Simon.
Note: I wish I had skipped this forum.There were lots of "aspirational" (= delusional) statements about what could be done. Too often the candidates ignored constraints of funding and available land. Then there was ignorance of the substantial work done by earlier committees that many of the candidates, both PAUSD and City Council, displayed. The most recent effort was in 2019. Also, 3 of the top 5 Council candidates (by money) did not attend: The forum was scheduled in conflict with the regularly scheduled Planning & Transportation Commission meeting. Although Commissioners Summa and Lauing sent statements, the forum's organizers misleadingly stated only that they were not attending. Instead of the normal practice of explaining and/or reading their statements, the organizers said that those statements would be posted to their ^website^. Candidate Forssell also had a conflict.
Note: The FoC website erroneously lists Lauing as having attended.

----General----

Forums: Because of their design, you are unlikely to get an understanding of what the candidates might do if elected.
• These events are called "forums" and not "debates": The rules prohibit candidates from responding to what each other has said, although "I agree" appears to be an exception. Neither is there any follow-up, although there was some at the Palo Alto Online interviews (also online).To properly evaluate some/many of the candidates, you need to be able to detect what they get wrong and what they don't know. That is, you need to know more about the important issues than they do! You need to be able to distinguish insightful answers from absurd ones, and everything in-between. This is how it has been for my over-two-decades involvement in Palo Alto politics: I have been repeatedly told/admonished that the local political establishment wants to project the appearance of consensus, even when it is anything but. Often this goes under the euphemism of "collegiality". This phenomenon has a long history in politics.(1) Studies have found that an emphasis on consensus in corporate decision-making prolongs the process and produces inferior results -- the proverbial "A camel is a horse designed by a committee."
• It is very hard to write questions that elicit responses that show these differences. I know -- I struggled doing this for multiple elections. It is hard when you know the serious candidates' record on the issues, but when the majority of the "serious" candidates don't have a record ...Typically, the number of candidates at a forum limits the time allowed for each response to be 30-60 seconds, with opening and closing statements sometimes given all of 2 minutes. The typical question is so broad that college graduates are likely to be able to talk credibly for well over a minute about something of which they know little. Even worse are questions about complex, multi-faceted, nuanced issues where candidates are restricted to Yes/No answers. A remedy? Anyone proposing a question should be asked to give an answer within the allotted time. Often a credible/adequate answer is found to take much longer, and it's "back to the drawing board".

In the five forums, a lot of the questions were repeats. This wasn't that surprising because three were on consecutive days -- if the organizers hadn't already prepared backup questions, they likely wouldn't have had time to generate new ones. But then, I didn't hear any indication that the organizers were prepared to adapt.
Aside: Forums are necessarily scrunched together because mid-September is when the electorate starts paying attention, with ballots being mailed out 3 weeks later.

One consolation of repeatedly hearing answers to the same questions was that I could see how the candidates improved their answers. For some, the improvement was only in the words used, but there were also some realizations of the problems with their answers.

Example: Last year, the League of Women Voters (LWV) proposed a campaign finance measure that limited donations to candidates and their expenditures. It was immediately pointed out in the comments on the news articles(2) that there can be unlimited money spent on campaigns that is outside the candidates' control. There are many varieties of such Independent Expenditure Committees (IEC) , such as Political Action Committees (PACs) and SuperPACs. From voters' perspective, the biggest -- huge -- difference in the requirements and restrictions on the categories is transparency before the election.

In the 2014 election, there was an IEC that heavily advertised in the week before election day against one group of candidates labeling them a "slate" and advocating for another group -- their non-slate slate. (^my 2014-11-02 blog^). In this election, there is an IEC advocating for three Council candidates, and it is spending large amounts on advertising. Three of the five named supporters of this IEC also supported the 2014 IEC. One of them wrote the OpEd for the LWV proposal to limit expenditures (by others) while engaging in the opposite. If I had been on one of the committees developing questions for a forum, I would have wanted to ask about this.

Instead, we got to hear the candidates praise this proposal and argue for tighter limits. Lythcott-Haims and Summa pointed out the IEC problem, and Lauing referenced it indirectly. By the last forum -- hosted by the LWV -- several more of the candidates were expressing reservations.

Questionnaires: I tend to give little weight to a campaign's response to questionnaires -- notice that I wrote "campaign" not "candidate". Starting in mid-August and extending well into September, candidates receive a seemingly endless stream of questionnaires, with many of them the equivalent of junk mail. After choosing which should be responded to within the available time, the candidate gets help from various supporters in writing what is submitted. Some candidates discuss what they want to say and have the supporters create a draft. Others have their supporters create a draft based on their knowledge of the issue and the electorate. The candidate then rewrites it into their style and priorities. If you listen to discussions by professional speech writers -- especially at the US Presidential level -- you will hear accounts of both patterns.

Recognize that the supporters helping the candidate are not hired-guns who will disappear after the election, but will become the candidate's virtual staff -- advisors, researchers, graphics design, tech-support ... Recognize that City Staff reports to the City Manager and that Council interacts with Staff through the City Manager. Thus, a Council member's staff is not the City Staff, but the residents.

Endorsements: I give zero weight to endorsements from officials and organizations. I wrote about why in ^my 2014-11-22 blog ^ and there have been more confirming accounts. Briefly, this is rife with cronyism, backscratching, unrepresentative endorsement committees, chicanery and exercises in cynicism. Endorsements by elected officials may represent individual choices or they may be entitlements of the Party's endorsement.

Although City Council elections are officially non-partisan, that hasn't stopped political parties and their clubs from making endorsements. They likely view such elections as part of their development league or farm system, with those candidates becoming additional endorsers of the party line. Such recommendations should be viewed as what is good for the Party, not Palo Alto.

When you see a newspaper endorsement, I strongly encourage you to read the associated text. I often find that I strongly disagree with their priorities and reasoning. The people making the recommendations have considerable contact with the political class and reflect their views, perhaps unconsciously: a filter bubble or akin to "^Regulatory Capture^". Often I find that those endorsements are irrelevant to people like me.

Exceptions: The term "Honorary Chair" designates political prominent people who have volunteered to use their connections to raise funds for a candidate's campaign. This commitment of time and reputation differentiates them from those who were asked for an endorsement and may have said little more than a polite version of "Sure. Why not."

----What else am I looking for?----

Before I consider where a candidate stands on various issues, I want to see good evidence that he has sustained interest and activity in a substantial portion of the job of being on Council. During the forums, I didn't see evidence that some of the candidates had knowledge of the issues beyond that of being a casual reader of Palo Alto Online, or less. Similarly, some of the bios didn't show commitment to these issues.

My expectation is that candidates don't fully understand how much time and effort is involved: I have repeatedly heard Councilmembers describe their duties as essentially a full-time job. Candidates who are close to a current or former Councilmember get some sense of this; others badly underestimate this. I listen for those who seem likely to step up to what is needed.

I have heard that the employers of several past Councilmembers treated their service on City Council as part of their job. Then there are those who have viewed serving as a low-effort position. Somewhere in the early- or mid-2000s, I was talking to a Councilmember about how much work/time it took. He said that he could learn enough to vote on an issue by listening during the meeting to the presentations from the Staff, the public and other Councilmembers. And a certain amount of scanning of the Staff reports, also during the meeting. He said he had quickly learned who he agreed with on specific issues and tended to follow their votes. When I mentioned this to others, I was told that when he was on the School Board, he was infamous for picking up his packet of reports on his way into the meeting.

This ignores that Councilmembers also represent Palo Alto at meetings of other governmental agencies. Council has repeatedly been surprised to learn of those agencies' decisions and actions because the assigned Council member wasn't attending or was attending and not reporting back. Current Vice Mayor Lydia Kou tried to cover for this by voluntarily attending those meetings in addition to her own assignments.

The packets of reports that Councilmembers are given several days before the weekly meeting have recently been 150-400 pages long, but I saw one that was almost 1000 pages. Fortunately (for the trees), packets are currently being distributed in electronic form (PDFs). If you want to sample, they are online at ^https://www.cityofpaloalto.org/Departments/City-Clerk/Citys-Meeting-Agendas/Council-Agendas-and-Minutes-2021-2022^.

Campaign team: In the above sub-section on Questionnaires, I included the importance of the campaign team and that it will likely become part of the group of residents serving as the Council member's de facto staff. I look at the candidate's website and other literature for who these people might be. First, the people willing to work hard to get the candidate elected are the most important and revealing endorsements. Second, the politics of those people says more about the candidate's positions than the candidate's official statements.
Only 1 of the 7 candidates provided this.

Non-delusional: Many candidates in the forums displayed no awareness or interest in the realities of what they were advocating. First, little/no awareness of the costs or how that funding would be obtained. Among those advocating for city programs or other expenditures, there is a common attitude that money is no object and that what is lacking is the will and leadership to do it, and maybe overcoming the "selfishness" of Palo Altans. I used to commonly hear the argument "Palo Altans are so rich that ..." There is a failure to understand that not all Palo Altans are wealthy -- that there are many, many people who are on tight budgets. Recognize that a candidate lacking such awareness and with such an attitude is unlikely to be able to represent all of the residents. If a candidate doesn't recognize the difference between the cumulative wealth of the residents and the money available to government, she should not be elected. And what about endorsements based on this fallacy? Unsurprisingly, the sub-headline for the Mercury News endorsements is "A city with this amount of wealth needs to move faster to solve its housing, financial issues".

Second, too many of this year's candidates seemed unaware of the constraints on various resources, especially available land.(3)

Willingness to dissent, I mean, be divisive: In the current political culture, condemning someone for being "divisive" is the polite way to shut up those that disagree with you, or are even skeptical or ask for explanations that could reveal that your statement has contradictions, logical errors, gaps, ... In the current campaign, one candidate is falsely accused of being the lone dissenting vote on various proposals. And it has become only a small step up to labeling disagreement as evil: killing grandmothers, "with the terrorists", "extremist", "deplorable". (Rhetorical: So what am I? What are you?)

Resistance to dogma: We live in a time when expressing even skepticism about someone's political beliefs on an issue can be met with anger and invective. For example, their treating homelessness (unhousedness?) as a single problem when studies have found and confirmed that there are at least three major categories that have starkly different needs and treatments. But "Bureaucratic Convenience" often triumphs over expertise and effectiveness in both public and private agencies.

In the 2020 controversy over opening Foothill Nature Preserve to people from outside Palo Alto, the advocates painted those who disagreed as being racists. Unfortunately, but unsurprisingly, many of our "community leaders" collaborated with this approach. I can't remember any who publicly said this was wrong -- much less condemned it -- although a few would go so far as to privately say it was unfortunate (snark). Yes, I know that accusations of "racism" have been routinely used for many, many years as generic, baseless, meaningless invective -- the equivalent of "I disagree" when they can't/won't explain -- but many people still take such accusations seriously. Ask yourself how many times you have seen someone stand up against a false accusation. How many times have you done so yourself?

Housing policy and programs at the state and federal level have underlying assumptions that suburbs are predominantly White and un-welcoming to non-Whites.(4) It is not uncommon to hear Palo Alto's political elite -- including multiple current candidates -- describe Palo Alto as lacking "diversity" and needing to become "welcoming".
Show me the data! From the 2020 census, these are the demographics of Palo Alto, Santa Clara and San Mateo Counties, and the overall US:
............ Whites ... Asian . Multi . Hispanic .. Black
PA: ..... 53-56% ... 33% .... 7% ..... 06% ........ 02%
SCC: .. 29-51% ... 41% .... 4% ..... 25% ........ 03%
SMC: . 37-58% ... 32% .... 5% ..... 24% ........ 03%
US: .... 60-76% ... 06% .... 3% ..... 19% ........ 14%
The wide range in percentage of Whites shows the meaningless of the categories, most notably in how "Hispanic or Latino" choose to self-report. (5) Similarly, the category Asian is itself a highly diverse collection of categories, as anyone who spends much time in public spaces would know. Reminder: Asia is much more than just China and India. The ancestral countries of Palo Alto residents that I have encountered include Turkey, Iran, Tibet, Mongolia, Korea, Japan, Vietnam, Thailand, Myanmar, and probably some I don't remember.

I used to regard mentions of "diversity" as ignorable obligatory declarations of acquiescence to political ideology. However, diversity is now affecting Palo Alto city government. Reportedly, part of the failure of the North Venture Coordinated Area Plan (NVCAP) was the importance of diversity of the appointed committee members: ethnicity, age, gender? This was more important than being knowledgeable, interested, committed ... There were attendance problems and there were attendees who were on their computers/phones -- shopping, mail, games -- rather than participating meaningfully.

Some candidates talk about wanting economic diversity. This has been a desire expressed for decades but what hasn't been expressed is a feasible plan, or even an unrealistic plan that doesn't require infeasible housing subsidies. I haven't heard of anyone discussing the how after having done the math.(6)

^Don't know much about history^ (2:10) (Lou Adler, Herb Alpert, Sam Cooke) or "Those who don't know history are doomed to repeat it" (Edmund Burke) or maybe it just doesn't matter: "We learn from history that we do not learn from history." (Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel).
The forums had breath-taking displays of the Dunning-Kruger Effect: Candidates making confident pronouncements on issues where they display little/no knowledge about the studies and other work that had been done and the lessons learned. If they are on Council, I expect that they will want to reconsider alternatives that have been studied and rejected as infeasible financially or physically.

Boosterism? Vanity? Prestige? Bragging rights? Beware candidates who want to use public moneys to satisfy their own vanity, although they will say they only want what is best for the city. Palo Alto has a long history of advocates, including Councilmembers, engaging in this. They want Palo Alto to be a leader, if not the leader, in the US, if not the world, and to inspire other communities to follow Palo Alto's lead. My favorite from some years ago was that Palo Alto needed to be "A Lighthouse to the World". I guess "A Shining City on a Hill" was taken (snark). I have seen projects where becoming eligible for an award from a national advocacy group seem to be a significant factor in the decisions -- which was the likely intent of the award. And I have seen the opposite, where the literal textbook solution was pushed despite it being a poor match to the specific circumstances. Perhaps safety in conformity.

When candidates say I just want to give back to the community or doing my civic duty, cynical me wonders whether
• they are displaying (expected?) humility?
• they want to avoid questions about their qualifications and intentions?
• they have little/no interest in the position and its duties, but are seeking the status that the title confers.

Does a candidate see City Council as an entry-level position?? City Council is the highest position in Palo Alto government, but for someone considering a career in politics, it is an entry-level position. The position gives them access to meetings and events where they can network. The title produces contacts with advocacy groups that are seeking to add the names of elected officials to their list of supporters. In return, the official gets another organization's name for padding their bio for their next election, potentially for a higher office.

Visionaries At least one of the forums asked the candidates what was their vision for Palo Alto. This was a question to which the organizers shouldn't have expected meaningful answers, and they didn't get any. My experience has been that there are those that are (self?) declared "visionaries" at the time of their pronouncement and then there are those that are acknowledged retroactively. For the former, I am reminded of a passage from The Great Gatsby (chapter 9, pg 170) by F. Scott Fitzgerald: "They were careless people, Tom and Daisy -- they smashed up things and creatures and then retreated back into their money or their vast carelessness, or whatever it was that kept them together, and let other people clean up the mess they had made." Or maybe the statement by the Chief of the Revolutionary Police of the Paris Commune (1871) about famous anarchist ^Mikhail Bakunin^: "On the first day, he was a treasure. On the second day, he should have been shot" (improved translation). "Visionaries" can impede progress by trying to constantly talk about "The Vision".

Most of what Council actually does is working the details, or more accurately checking them: They listen to critiques of the Staff recommendations. Have the facts been cherry-picked or otherwise misused?? Are the Staff's recommended priorities consistent with the City's?? Are the tradeoffs fair?? Are the problems in a recommendation immediately fixable, or does it need to be sent back for reconsideration by Staff??

Each year, Council has a day-long retreat where they consider what the priorities for the coming year should be. Often there are continuations of the previous years. That's about as close to "Vision" as they seem to get.

Government is different from private corporations: A long line of successful CEOs have attempted to take on elected executive positions, such as mayor and governor, and they typically failed. The organization politics they encountered was very different, and the independent power of the bureaucracy, advocacy groups, other special interests, and other governmental agencies is well beyond what they previously experienced. As are the requirements for transparency in decision-making. ...

^Credentialism:^: Having the university degree/certification/license/... is more important than what the credential is supposed to represent: knowledge, skill, experience, mastery ...When a person emphasizes their own credentials, there should be concern about whether their assessment of others will treat credentials as a substitute -- in whole or in part -- for their track record.
A warning sign is when someone mentions credentials and moves on. Common advice for writing resumes is to indicate why the credential is important for the job being applied for. For example:
"MBA from Harvard. I also learned so much from six friends whose fathers manage sovereign wealth funds."

--An Independent Expenditure Committee (IEC) is in this election--

The IEC Committee to Support Lythcott-Haims, Forssell, Veenker for Palo Alto City Council 2022 is going to great expense for ads for the candidates named. The people behind this committee are -- from an early ad -- Jennifer DiBrienza, John Kelly, Larry Klein, Gail Price and Steve Levy. Their endorsement for those three candidates are the vacuous "Build more housing for all income levels in all parts of Palo Alto", "Accelerate impactful climate action", and "Strengthen local economy & raise city revenue".

If I were an intrepid journalist, I would want to ask the supporters -- without expecting a credible response -- why they are collecting money to spend on advertising rather than contributing directly to the candidates for them to enhance their own advertising strategies??
Likely motivations:
• Traditional: Obscure who is contributing and/or how much. Or get contributions above the legal limit of $4900 for each candidate. For perspective, with only 6 maxed-out donors a candidate would be very close to the $30,000total that is being bandied about as a reasonable limit for campaigns.
• Traditional: Campaign activities that the candidate's allies want to avoid him being associated with: smears and other false accusations, misrepresenting the targeted candidate's record or quotes, and various other dirty tricks.The "I" in IEC is for "Independent" and there is a basic legal requirement that an IEC not coordinate with the candidate being supported or opposed. (wink, wink)The intent of an IEC can be to provide the candidate with (plausible?) (legal) deniability.
• How about advertising for multiple candidates?? Candidates have long done joint advertising, so what's the impediment? Is there at least one of the candidates who is just too difficult to work with? That bodes badly if that candidate is elected.
• Or could it be that the IEC disagrees with the candidate's advertising and is doing what they believe the candidate should do?? If they disagree that much with a candidate, why are they spending big money to get her elected??

----Notes from Forums by Issue----

I consider taking my notes from the forums and organizing a useful differentiation. I did a small test and found it could itself easily become a long blog. Part of the difficulty was that too many of the responses were vague and lacked crucial knowledge. To be meaningful to the typical resident, explaining would take too much space and time.

----Candidate Assessments----

My process: I did not attempt to have a "balanced" accounts for each of the candidates where the measure is the words written. Instead, I wrote about each candidate separately, starting from what I remembered most, and then looked at the notes I took during the forums and consolidated them (cut-n-paste) by the issue.

Candidates are listed in descending order of reported contributions received from Palo Alto sources. A ^spreadsheet showing this^ is available, and is also listed in the Resources section below.

--Julie Lythcott-Haims--

Palo Alto: $31,845; Elsewhere: $34,2418

One of Lythcott-Haims' biggest negatives is that she advertises herself as having a personality that is a horrible fit to what is expected and needed from a City Council member. Not only does she explicitly describe herself as a visionary (see above for elaboration), but she demonstrated that in her performances in forum after forum. One response to a question was that for a controversial issue, she would lead a march.

She also emphasized that she sees herself as having strong persuasion skills, that being important in reaching decisions. My observation is that it is important for Council members to first listen and try to understand the many perspectives and circumstances before assessing that the proposed tradeoffs are appropriate and for the best of the whole city. Projecting "I know what's best" has repeatedly been a disaster.

Her presentation style reminded me of a motivational speaker who flies in, gives a speech, and then flies out.

During the forums, JLH was the only candidate from whom I didn't see any growth. She didn't seem to benefit from the discussions that candidates should be having with residents as a normal part of campaigning, nor did she seem to learn from what was being said in the forums.

She was unaware of high-profile Palo Alto news. To forum questions on grade separation, she gave three different answers. Two had already been carefully studied and rejected: tunnel/ditch -- inordinately expensive and ecologically damaging (shallow ground-water flow from the mountains to the Bay) -- and a viaduct. The third (PAO forum) was to answer what should be done with a statement of what should have been done, which she said would have been to do what San Mateo did and put the tracks on a berm (between El Camino Real and Old Country Road/Pacific Blvd - ^[email protected] view^). Never mind that the situation there and here were very different.

At no point did I hear her aware of -- much less concerned about -- details. For example, a repeated talking point was about the 2013 proposed project on Maybell Avenue. She said she regretted wasn't built and implied knowledge of it by saying it was in her neighborhood. She characterized it as affordable housing when in fact somewhat over half the parcel was to be used for market-rate housing. Nor did she seem to be aware that its layout would likely make worse a designated Safe Route to Schools (Gunn HS and Fletcher Middle) that was already deemed unsafe. The city-wide referendum that blocked that specific plan for the project was a watershed event in local politics: It was the cumulative result of Councils' dismissing and disparaging residents' input on a succession of important projects. The breaking point may have come when the project's advocates began characterizing non-support as racist.
Note: The Maybell controversy itself is off-topic -- comments will be deleted.

To a later forum's question on the LWV campaign finance proposal, part of her response was to find a way around IECs. But the very basis for IECs is the famous/landmark US Supreme Court's 2010 ^Citizens United^ decision which was based on freedom of speech. JLH received a Law Degree from Harvard -- but since follow-up questions were not allowed, we don't know how she thinks one could get around the First Amendment.

She also doesn't seem to have much interest in politics in general. In an ^ad running in the rotation on Palo Alto Online^ (https://bit.ly/3fGPdLA) her entire message is to "VOTE BY MAIL!" (Aside: I have seen a subsequent brochure where this is also a prominent part). This has been much remarked about. In this election, all registered voters are being sent Vote-by-Mail ballots. And a very high percentage of Palo Altans -- over 80%?? -- have long been using VBM in previous elections. If she were aware of this, why the need to urge people to vote by mail??

Request: If you are inclined to defend her, think if what you would be saying was that she was speaking without thinking.
There was a strong whiff of credentialism. If she learned valuable lessons in her years at Stanford as the Dean of Freshmen, she didn't hint at it.
I suggest reading JLH's blog on why she decided to run: "^The Day I Said Fu*ck It And Ran^" - 2022-08-02. If your browser's SPAM-blockers or security settings prevent this article from displaying, try ^bit.ly/3RKhyOG^.

I can't see how JLH could work effectively on Council, rather I would see her as a constantly disruptive presence.

--Vicki Veenker--

Palo Alto: $29,825; Elsewhere: $14,750

In contrast to Lythcott-Haims who provided a plethora of memorable statements, be they all negative, I only remembered three things about Veenker before consulting my notes. The first was her being a "recovering litigator", reportedly for patents. I didn't hear how she thought this would be relevant to being on Council.

The second was that she was a mediator in high-level situations. Mediation is typically conducted in private because publicity can cause positions to harden. In contrast, transparency is the requirement for the conduct of most public business. I know of several times over the years when the City got into trouble because the City Manager and the Mayor (and maybe some Councilmembers) had private (aka "backroom") discussions with developers on proposed projects that were then portrayed as agreements/commitments/deals. She is running an ^ad titled "A Track Record of Getting to 'Yes' "^ with a quote "Vicki is skilled, experienced, trained, and committed at getting to 'yes' ". This and the accompanying quote read to me like damning with faint praise.

By the time a proposal reaches Council, it is the equivalent of the result of mediation. It should have gone through public-outreach meetings conducted by City Staff and/or consultants. I would then have become a Staff recommendation, hopefully containing assessments of legitimate alternatives. It then passes through Commissions & Boards whose appointed members are residents. The proposal then goes to Council to make decisions on a few remaining issues, but Council doesn't have time to make any significant adjustments.

Veenker expects her mediation skills to help move various long-standing difficult issues forward. The obvious and unanswered question is "Where were you during the previous work on these issues??"

The third that was memorable to me was her saying that she played a significant role in protecting Buena Vista Mobile Home Park (BVMHP) (^map^) which is in my Barron Park neighborhood. For at least two decades before the 2014 crisis, residents had kept protection of BVMHP on the City's list of important objectives (the Comprehensive Plan = CompPlan), but there were too many obstacles to get it to being important enough to actually do something about. When the crisis erupted, many residents came together to make it a must do. I decided to not try the list the important contributors here because I was afraid of omitting some people who were very important to the effort. As the situation became prominent, County Supervisor Joe Simitian stepped in and played a crucial role. I do remember there were lawyers and law firms playing a peripheral role, seemingly on a separate track.
"Public sentiment is everything. With it, nothing can fail; against it, nothing can succeed. Whoever molds public sentiment goes deeper than he who enacts statutes, or pronounces judicial decisions."- Abraham Lincoln

In 2016, Veenker ran for the State Assembly and narrowly lost to Marc Berman (a lifetime term limit is 12 years in any combination of the Assembly and Senate). One of Veenker's biggest goals on Council would be to remove racial-restriction covenants from those deeds that had them. This has been considered by lawyers and it was decided that doing so would be expensive. Instead, it would be good enough to add a sheet to the deed stating that that restriction was now illegal and was not part of the deed. Veenker said that she worried about the mental impact of homeowners knowing that that null and void covenant was still occupying space in their deed. To me, this would be an "accomplishment" to be pitched to potential supporters that were unaware of the tradeoffs.

--Ed Lauing--

Palo Alto: $29,380; Elsewhere: $650

I have serious reservations about Lauing, but if it were not the case that 5 of the 7 other candidates don't have what I regard as enough knowledge and experience, I would be strongly considering an alternative to him.

My biggest reservation is that he repeatedly talks about the need to work collaboratively, using various similar words. He has often been viewed as having been too accommodating of others. This was emphasized by his Facebook post (of Thursday 2022-10-06) citing what he saw as the two most important quotes from the Mercury News endorsement editorial. The first was "strong advocate for offering greater incentives to developers to increase the city’s affordable housing stock". Palo Alto has been beset by Councils giving obviously outsized "incentives" to developers. If they said that the project wouldn't pencil out, Were they told "Show us your financial model"?? No. It was as if Council's reaction to something that was clearly in the developer's financial interest was "He wouldn't lie to us, now would he?"

For example, Palo Alto's ordinance for inclusive zoning requires larger developments to have a percentage of the Below-Market-Rate (BMR) -- aka "affordable" -- units and that they be intermixed with the Market-Rate units and indistinguishable from them. What if the developer not only wants them to be separate and inferior but also to serve as a soundwall for the market-rate units? A previous Council had no problem accommodating that.

His second self-highlighted quote was that his " business experience running startups would help the city work through its financial issues." Does the City not have business expertise on its professional staff, with the ability to hire consultants? If not why? Did anyone ask why and in what way he thought his experience would be of value? The City government's biggest expense involves personnel. Did Lauing's startups have politically powerful unions? Humongous pension fund deficits?

My next several comments are about following dogma, in this case race-based. With Covid, we saw leaders pushing a dogma that they knew was contrary to the best available science. We even saw Fauci at least twice declare that he was "Science". The result was massive harm to people, our economy and our society.

My second big reservation about Lauing is that I have repeatedly heard him say in prepared remarks that Palo Alto needs to improve its ethnic diversity. On the ^Priorities^ page on his website, of the four listed, the first states "As we plan for new housing, we need to focus on truly affordable housing so we can welcome new neighbors who will increase our social and economic diversity." To me, this smacks of the too-common dogma that equates ethnicity with significantly lower economic status.

In response to a question on Public Safety, Lauing advocated for more diversity in hiring, gender and ethnicity. An interesting follow-up question would have been that PAPD is having difficulty hiring and retaining anyone well-qualified, should that position be left unfilled if a candidate doesn't enhance diversity? This is not a hypothetical: Google managers were not hiring needed people because they were non-diverse, and that would hurt their score and their bonuses.

A question at the [email protected] forum stated that Palo Alto has a well-documented history of discrimination: Red-lining and Covenants. Lauing's response was to agree.
These were outlawed at least 53 and 63 years ago, respectively.(8) Acquiescing to such outdated dogma is worrying (above). I would hope for a leader who would stand up against it, or at least dodging agreeing with it.

While I strongly agreed that Palo Alto would greatly benefit from more economic diversity, this has been a local aspiration that has gotten further and further away over at least three decades. During the 1990s, multiple friends realized that if they wanted a child and a house, they would have to move out of the area. One is now President of an Ivy League University.

A question at the PAN forum (#8) was how to "empower renters". Three candidates -- Lythcott-Haims, Veener and Forssell -- replied that Palo Alto needed to encourage renters to apply for commissions and boards and run for Council. This after Lauing led off by reminding everyone that renters are 2 of the 7 current Council members.

On the issue of housing, I was surprised to hear Lauing say that density was needed and that meant we needed large projects to benefit from density. But he didn't give examples of where they could be. He should have been able to rattle off multiple sites because he was chair of the committee tasked with identifying sites that could be developed that way. Recognize that if the City's Zoning Ordinance says that a parcel is eligible to have 30 housing units per acre, that doesn't mean he has to build that many.

For me, all these reservations are offset by the huge gap in knowledge and experience between him (and Summa) and the other 5 candidates.

--Lisa Forssell--

Palo Alto: $26,194; Elsewhere: $11,480

Before I read my notes from the forums, I couldn't remember much that Forssell said. I do remember being surprised that a serving Utilities Commissioner wasn't strong on the expected issues.

Red flags on credentialism (above) went up with naked mentions of her "three Master's Degrees from Stanford".

On the topic of increasing housing, Forssell stated in multiple forums that the City needed area plans, and mentioned that the plan would include bicycle and pedestrian paths in the complex, a plaza, and green space.
==; Even if you are building tall, that requires lots of land. A persistent problem has been putting together enough continuous parcels. I know of several examples of combining two small lots that were thwarted because one of those lots was owned by a trust for the (great?) grandchildren. Or one of the family members who owned the land would reject any deal simply out of spite for the other(s). One developer who wanted to do such a project claimed he wasn't allowed to deal with the lawyers for the many part owners of that trust, he had to communicate through the trust's lawyer. He claimed this was not that uncommon of a problem.
== Experience is that area plans take roughly 8 years to complete an area plan -- the plan, not the building of anything. That is, assuming that none of the property owners decide they aren't going to cooperate, for example, a new owner who wants to build something quickly or that is not consistent with the plan. Palo Alto's assigned target is to have 6,000 units built by 2030, 8 years away.

Several times, Forssell dodged questions on what she should have been very familiar with from her time on the Utilities Commission.
For example, to a question about electrifying Palo Alto she said that she was excited to get to clean electric energy (a close paraphrase if not a quote). Notice that the below is about the amount of electricity needed -- it's being clean is irrelevant. The issue of electrification involves replacing gas-powered equipment -- such as hot water heaters with heat pumps.
== It requires very expensive upgrades to the electrical infrastructure to support the increased demand.
== Installing a heat pump is much more than buying it and plopping it down. I hear people say they considered it and were shocked by how much all the associated upgrades would cost.
== Remember that not everyone in Palo Alto is wealthy.Assistance/subsidies will be needed. Estimates?
== Upgrades are needed to California's electrical infrastructure, but Palo Alto has no control over that. With heat pumps, the peak electrical demand could be on the coldest days of the winter.

Forssell expressed hope for state and federal funding for housing. Palo Alto has long had problems getting such funding because too much of that money gets taken by the cost of land. The funders recognize that they get more bang for the buck elsewhere.

--Doria Summa--

Palo Alto: $24,867; Elsewhere: $200

Re-disclosure: I am part of Summa's campaign team.
That creates a difficult situation for me in writing about her in this blog. I could easily come off as shilling for her, or damning her with faint praise.
Note: She is the only candidate who acknowledge her campaign team (and did so without prompting). See above for elaboration.

She was the only candidate in the forum who, from the beginning, was talking about the complexity of the issues. For example, while the other candidates were speaking as if cities build housing she reminded the audience of the long-standing caveat that "Cities don't build houses, developers do."

When most of the candidates talk about needing to give incentives to developers, Summa pointed out that the housing on the former VTA lot (corner of El Camino and Page Mill) got built without the usual giveaways -- I mean incentives.

To a question about Renter Protection, the other candidates called for new programs, some already under consideration. Summa agreed and add that a serious problem was the lack of enforcement of existing ordinances.

--Alex Comsa--

Palo Alto: $1,200; Elsewhere: $0; Loans to self: $21,900

In the forums, Comsa displayed curiosity about various issues, mentioning that he had talked to the City Manager about it. While that is a good attitude, it is a long way from being prepared to serve on Council. For example, he mentioned in one forum and in an ad that Palo Alto should use the airport and surrounding land for high-density housing. This has multiple problems:
• The airport is only 4 feet above sea level and routinely floods during King Tides.
• It is former marsh land and likely seismically unsuitable for taller buildings.
• That housing in an area would be isolated from most of Palo Alto by both distance and 101.
But this was only slightly more unrealistic than what some of the other candidates seemed to be proposing.

--Brian Hamachek--

Palo Alto: $1,920; Elsewhere: $0

He is a software engineer and during the forums, his approaches to issues imbued by that profession came through (I appreciate and approve). This differentiated him from all the other candidates.

Hamachek became involved in local politics via the City's persistent mishandling of Castilleja School situations, and the City's mistreatment of the neighbors. This is good experience for a candidate, but is very limited.

----Links to Resources----

--Candidate websites--

But first, a musical interlude: ^I Wanna Grow Up To Be A Politician^ (2:04) - The Byrds (1971)
• ^Alex Comsa^
• ^Lisa Forssell^
• ^Julie Lythcott-Haims^
• ^Brian Hamachek^
• ^Ed Lauing^
• ^Doria Summa^
• ^Vicki Veenker^

--Forums: Online videos--

• ^Palo Alto Online^: ^City Council Debate 2022^ (1:51:04) - 2022-09-13.
• ^Friends of Cubberley^: ^FOC Forum Candidate 2022^ (1:13:34) - recorded 2022-09-14; posted on 2022-09-16 on YouTube channel Deborah Simon.
• ^[email protected]^: The forum's listing on their website did not include a link to a video.
• ^Palo Alto Neighborhoods^: ^PAN 2022 CITY COUNCIL CANDIDATE FORUM^ (1:22:13) - 2022-10-22.
• ^LWV of Palo Alto^: ^Palo Alto City Council Candidate Forum for the November 8, 2022 General Election^ - (1:40:50) - 2022-10-01.

--Candidate Disclosure Forms in spreadsheets--

Another musical interlude: Money (That's What I Want): recommended: ^Barrett Strong^ (2:39) (1959) or one of many covers such as ^The Beatles^ (2:49) (1963)

The reporting of candidates of their monetary contributions on FPPC Form 460 Schedule A (460A here).
Details:
• The reporting period ended on 2022-09-24with a reporting deadline of 2022-09-29.The data here is as of Close-of-day 2022-09-30 -- it will include any contributions reported on FPPC Form 497 through that date. 497's are required for contributions of $1000 or more and are required to be filed within 24 hours of receipt.
• All the files here are stored on Google Drive. Except when noted, these files are all Microsoft Excel spreadsheets (XLSX). If you click on these links, most browsers will open them as view-only spreadsheets -- I have tested this in Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome and Microsoft Edge. If you want to make your own modifications, you can download a copy to your computer.
• There are a few annoyances in the 460s that can cause minor discrepancies. For example, the total for Unitemized monetary contributions (less than $50 each)appears in the summaries but if you simply add the listed (itemized) individual monetary contributions, you can get a different total.
For my purposes, these discrepancies are too small to bother with.

Spreadsheet with the entries for all candidates:
• ^460A sorted by Candidate Name^ (https://bit.ly/3EqCK9a)
This is provided in case you want to start fresh.
• ^460A sorted by Donor Name^ (https://bit.ly/3RTpmha) :
People who contributed to multiple candidates are highlighted with orange/yellow-ish backgrounds. This can be very interesting to see the patterns of combinations of candidates. People who made multiple contributions to the same candidate have green/blue-ish backgrounds to avoid inadvertent inclusion in the former.
• ^460A sorted by ZIP code, includes all candidates^ (https://bit.ly/3VcIwBu).
• To see other 460 Schedules, they have not been separated out of the ^"massaged" master spreadsheet (explanation below)^ (https://bit.ly/3RLTwTd):
== Schedule C: Nonmonetary Contributions Received.
== Schedule E: Payments Made.
== Schedule F: Accrued Expenses (Unpaid Bills).
== Summary: Combining totals from specified lines in the Schedules.

Spreadsheets for individual candidate's Monetary Contributions: The below files contain three worksheets each:
(1) The block of entries for a candidate extracted from a spreadsheet where the entries were sorted by the candidate names. Useful if you want to start over cleanly.
(2) Sorted by the amount of each donor's contribution, from highest to lowest.Unverified marking of the median and average (mean) contribution.
(3) Sorted by contributors' self-reported ZIP codes.
The third worksheet is of interest because it shows the contributions that candidates are receiving from Palo Alto and from elsewhere.
The third worksheet also contains a breakdown by ZIP code within Palo Alto. I don't know if that would be interesting, but since it was easy to produce, I did it.
• ^ ZIP file containing the below^ (ZIP) (https://bit.ly/3RLTwTd): If you want to download all/many of the contained files, it is fewer clicks to download the ZIP file and then unZIP it on your computer.
• ^The totals from the worksheets for individual candidates sorted by ZIP code^ (https://bit.ly/3MguZ7G).
• From above: ^460A sorted by ZIP code, includes all candidates^ (https://bit.ly/3VcIwBu). A saved state for a clean restart.
• 460A's for each candidate:
== ^ Forssell ^ (https://bit.ly/3VeNttx).
== ^ Lauing ^ (https://bit.ly/3T2p748).
== ^ Lythcott-Haims ^ (https://bit.ly/3rEOi0Z).
== ^ Summa ^ (https://bit.ly/3Va0Mex).
== ^ Veenker ^ (https://bit.ly/3rHgWys).
== Alex Comsa: too few entries to warrant a separate spreadsheet. Use the ^460A sorted by Candidate Name ^ (https://bit.ly/3EqCK9a)
== Brian Hamachek: also too few entries to warrant a separate spreadsheet.

If you want to look at earlier source materials:
• ^ ZIP file containing PDFs of the Form 460s submitted by candidates for the reporting period ending September 24. These are as they would have appeared if manually filled in on paper^ (https://bit.ly/3CiiuUB).

FPPC Form 497 is used to report contributions of $1000 or more in the 90 days before the election. Ones before the end of the reporting period (September 24) are included in the Form 460 reporting. Those reports received between then and when I downloaded the NetFile spreadsheet (2022-09-30 Close-of-day) are in a worksheet within that download. I have separated it out and performed various sortings and bundled them in a ^ZIP file^ (https://bit.ly/3T3iizk)

If you want to see the spreadsheets leading up to this:
• ^ My massaging of the spreadsheet downloaded from NetFile into a state where I could start paying attention to the contents (explanation below)^ (https://bit.ly/3RLTwTd).
There were multiple incremental saved-states on the way to this.
• ^The downloaded NetFile spreadsheet on 2022-09-30 after Close-of-day^ (https://bit.ly/3SMX8FM).
• ^FAQ for the downloaded NetFile spreadsheet^ (TXT) (https://bit.ly/3T7iihG).
• ^More detailed listing and description of the headings in the downloaded NetFile spreadsheet^ (https://bit.ly/3yN2itN).
You DO NOT need to know this unless you want/need to know how the above files are related, and why you probably want to start with those files rather than taking the time to reproduce them.
• I downloaded the spreadsheet database for reporting by Palo Alto candidates (NetFile).
• I heavily massaged it.
-- I removed empty and irrelevant columns to help it fit on a screen.
-- I changed some column headings to be more intuitive.
-- I did a lot of formatting to improve readability and scan-ability.
• I did various sortings on columns that might show interesting patterns.
• From the massaged workbook, I extract the worksheet for monetary contributions to candidates (FPPC Form 460 Schedule A) and put it in a new workbook. I then did several sortings on its worksheet.
• I took the workbook/worksheet for contributions and sorted it by ZIP code.
• I did a separate sort on the candidate names and extracted the blocks of entries for each candidate into a new workbook.
• I was primarily interested in separating donations from Palo Alto from those from outside. As a bonus, because it was easy, I added the sums for each Palo Alto ZIP code.

----End Notes----
1. Projecting consensus phenomenon:
Two "recent" examples:
"If you want to get along, go along." - Sam Rayburn, Speaker of the US House of Representatives 1955-1961(death). This and its companion -- "Go along to get ahead" -- does much to explain why mediocrities and screw-ups tend to fail upwardsonce they have proven themselves.
"Larry's tone was in the friendly-advice category. He teed it up this way: I had a choice. I could be an insider or I could be an outsider. Outsiders can say whatever they want. But people on the inside don't listen to them. Insiders, however, get lots of access and a chance to push their ideas. People--powerful people--listen to what they have to say. But insiders also understand one unbreakable rule. They don't criticize other insiders. I had been warned." - Elizabeth Warren recounting an April 2009 conversation with Larry Summers.From her book A Fighting Chance,section Insiders Don't Criticize Insiders, pp 105-106 (final two paragraphs).

2. Articles about the League of Women Voters' proposal for campaign finance measures:
For the comments about PACs and SuperPACs:
"^Opinion: Local campaign donations and expenditures: Enough already^" by Gail Price - 2021-12-03.
"^Is Palo Alto ready for campaign finance reform? :: As League of Women Voters proposes limiting campaign donations, City Council members have other ideas^" - 2022-05-19.
"^Is Palo Alto ready for campaign finance reform? :: As League of Women Voters proposes limiting campaign donations, council members have other ideas^" - 2022-05-20. This is the print version of the previous day's online version. They seem to have a common/shared set of comments.
• LWV Proposal: "^Campaign Finance Reform in Palo Alto: Limiting Donations and Expenditures, and Increasing Political Ad Disclosures^" - update of 2022-04-27 of proposals of 2022-01-11 and 2021-11-04.

3. Constraints on land and other resources:
As I listened to statements about supporting increases in Palo Alto's population by substantially increasing the density of buildings -- building taller with smaller units -- I asked myself where was the land to come from add parks, expand/build community centers ...To create parking lots for occupants of large buildings where state law eliminated requirements that developers' provide realistic amounts of parking? To avoid overloading streets. Before the Covid lockdowns, several of our key intersections were projected to reach Failing status based upon what was already approved and being built. We need to avoid something like what happened to south El Camino Real, that is, the land along it was originally divided to have narrow and deep lots to accommodate more businesses having frontages. Over the years, El Camino was successively widened to the current 6+ lanes, leaving narrow, shallow lots that abut single-family homes.

4. Suburbs non-diverse and un-welcoming:
The nationwide campaign to eliminate single-family homes often goes under the claim that the zoning for such homes represents exclusionary zoning, focusing on aspects, such as minimum lot size, that somehow make houses there too expensive for non-Whites but afford to Whites with very similar jobs. It's telling about the advocates' background and insulated existence that their presentations of a suburb with exclusionary zoning show large houses on lots of at least one acre each with gorgeous views.
In the 2020 Presidential Debate, Joe Biden broke with Democratic Party orthodoxy and said that the suburbs were integrated (as part of a claim about Trump's racism). This was likely a ^Kinsley gaffe^, that is, a politician telling the truth -- some obvious truth he isn't supposed to say.

5. Range in statistics on Whites:
This is a result of the malleability of the designation. For example, there are significant populations in Central and South America from migrations from Europe in response to poverty, famine and war-ravaged economies. For example, to increase the population of the Argentina colony, large numbers of Italians were shipped there.
Demographers were surprised to find that families that originally identified as Hispanic might change to identifying as White as early as two generations in the US.

6. Doing the math on "increasing diversity" with Below-Market-Rate (aka affordable)housing units
The City may raise the number of Below-Market-Rate (BMR) units for inclusive zoning from the current 15% to 20%. If the target of 6,000 new housing units is met, that would be 1200 BMR units. The Census Bureau estimates Palo Alto's current population at roughly 67,000, so each 1% of that is 670 people. Assuming only 1 person per unit would yield only a 1.8% increase in population; an average of 4 per unit produces a 7.2% increase. The biggest differential between Palo Alto and Santa Clara County in the US Census' racial demographics is for Hispanics: 6% to 25%. A 19% increase is 12,730 people, which would be an average of 10.6 people for each of those BMR units(note: I am not adjusting for that population increase -- this is good enough for my purposes here).Far past unacceptable.

7. My relevant background for listening to the forums:
At forums and similar events, I am far from the typical attendee: I am listening carefully to what is being said by "my" candidate and her competitors and watching for audience reaction. I am listening more carefully and more critically than the typical attendee.
I note what the other candidates say to think of ways she can be prepared to either build off of what they say or use it to differentiate herself.
Probably my most important role on a campaign comes not from my scientific/engineering background but rather from doing presentations to get and keep that work funded. I listen to the candidate and make suggestions on how to get more of what she wants to be said into the 30-60 second time that she is likely to be constrained to. I then focus on suggestions on how to make that more attention-grabbing and memorable. Notice that I said "suggestions": Some get rejected outright; some help the candidate get to something that is natural and authentic to her; a few actually get used. Most serious campaigns have people doing this.

8. Red-lining and Racially restrictive Covenants:
Racially restrictive covenants were only in some Palo Alto tracts and were outlawed by California's ^Unruh Civil Rights Act^ of 1959. As for red-lining "must" have occurred in Palo Alto because it occurred in other cities in the area, but they have not provided a single example for Palo Alto. Red-lining is when a business decides to not provide its services to areas that it regards as too risky, for example for poverty or racial reasons. For people trying to buy a house in red-lined areas, this practice would prevent them from getting a mortgage or the insurance required by the mortgage.


----
An ^abbreviated index by topic and chronologically^ is available.
Democracy.
What is it worth to you?

Comments

Posted by James Gleason, a resident of Community Center,
on Oct 11, 2022 at 9:35 am

James Gleason is a registered user.

With the exception of Ms. Summa, it sounds like you have reasonable doubts (or second thoughts) about the other PACC candidates.

All things considered and regardless of who is elected, private developers and upper-tier City Hall administers run the show in Palo Alto.

The PACC is a weak, almost ceremonial municipal committee that simply goes with the flow and in the long run, it doesn't really matter who is elected.


Posted by mjh, a resident of College Terrace,
on Oct 11, 2022 at 2:05 pm

mjh is a registered user.

As Doug Moran appeared to attend Ed Lauing's campaign kickoff as a supporter, I think it unlikely Doug has too many doubts about Ed being qualified to serve on council, as implied in the first post.


Posted by Ferdinand , a resident of Barron Park,
on Oct 11, 2022 at 2:32 pm

Ferdinand is a registered user.

Thank you for letting us see inside your mind regarding the civic process and the time invested in that effort. My simple mind has distilled/clarified the following take-aways:

1. Growth is inevitable but design quality follows values: Whether someone is no-growth, slow-growth, or rapid-growth seems irrelevant now that the state has dictated the housing element increases. What matters is people who have experience and the desire to craft housing"if not neighborhoods"integrated into our city which provide meaningful connections with neighbors and the larger community. This includes safe traffic flow, adequate bike connections, sufficient parking to keep streets safe for peds/cyclists, community rooms in their complexes, and proximity to (hopefully) walkable services.

2. Experience really matters AND sometimes newcomers can do the job well. I agree that “sustained interest and activity is a substantial portion of the job of being on Council" and it appears only Lauing, Summa, and Forssell have shown this.The others might have it too, but would be better prepared by first demonstrating their skills on our Human Relations or Planning & Transportation commissions. This shows some needed humility and respect for the process, both of which are powerful tools when collaboration is needed and to promote some broad constituent trust.

3. Rate of Change: Closely related (to 2 above) is how to regulate and plan the rate of change in ways that are safe for peds, cyclists, and drivers, minimizes loss of quality, AND has climate targets in the bullseye. The process needs to move more quickly AND with far improved clarification for our constituents. We do need to come together with all the facts on the table so we truly understand what existing residents are giving up to promote a more economically balanced city.


Posted by Rebecca Eisenberg, a resident of Old Palo Alto,
on Oct 12, 2022 at 2:34 am

Rebecca Eisenberg is a registered user.

Dear Douglas:

Your column is a useful guide, not just for this election, but for future elections. I am far from an expert, but my limited experience - being in the middle of the second time I have run for office -- some of your comments resound exceptionally true.

For example, your observations on endorsements from officials articulated exactly what I have been trying to make sense of in my mind. As you point out, they often are transactional, political, and ultimately meaningless. Often the officials don't bother meeting any of the candidates other than the ones that they endorse. Often the reason for the endorsement can differ from what the candidate hopes or expects them to be. (Forgive me, my own endorsers -- it's not all the time! Not you! But it is a lot of the time.) Sometimes I wonder what the candidate may have promised in exchange for the endorsement. Back room dealings = ambition > public interest.

Also, I agree it is very important to read newspaper endorsements to understand the context. Absolutely it's sometimes the case that the endorsement is for reasons that are not aligned with your priorities and values. It's a thing.

I also greatly appreciate your breakdown of the fundraising data into such useful forms. That was a huge service!! Thank you also for explaining how you completed these tasks. That was truly generous of you.

Perhaps what I found most interesting about your analysis is that much was non-political. And, when it was political, even though I often disagreed with the political perspective, your approach struck me as transparent and honest-- you admitted your perspectives rather than claiming neutrality.

And, by working to apply a consistent set of criteria to each candidate, you acknowledged strengths in all of them. That was high integrity.

How helpful it would be if officials and candidates were more transparent in their thought processes? Yours is clearly the work of an engineer. Thank you again.


Posted by Rebecca Eisenberg, a resident of Old Palo Alto,
on Oct 12, 2022 at 2:45 am

Rebecca Eisenberg is a registered user.

One last thing! I loved how you said that you expect candidates to learn over time. I agree! In my last campaign, and in this one, I often want to go back and make some edits to answers I gave before, because I have grown my perspective by listening to a lot of feedback over a short amount of time.

Although running for office in this location can be challenging, in my opinion, due to the lack of limits on campaign finance, which ends up forcing candidates to spend time fundraising that they should be spending speaking with constituents, one of the best things about running for office here is the large number of highly educated voters and community members who are generous with their time and expertise. I have been walked through dozens of slide decks, shown videos, had folks come to my home to show me old newspaper clippings, and heard first hand from civil engineers, private property owners, small businesses, and nonprofit organizations and I cherish these experiences because I have learned so much!

If I could, I would spend all my time speaking with constituents and stakeholders. There are countless perspectives on every situation. I think it's fair to expect our elected leaders to do their best to hear as many of them as possible. And each time they learn a new perspective, their own perspective grows accordingly.

Thanks again!


Posted by Brett Walker, a resident of Old Palo Alto,
on Oct 12, 2022 at 7:55 am

Brett Walker is a registered user.

The PACC members should be representative of individual voter districts to better serve the needs and pressing concerns of specific neighborhood communities.

A 'one size fits all' PACC is why we have have ongoing conflicts of interests.

By breaking down the PACC down into 7 neighborhood districts, PA residents will finally have a more active voice in city politics.

To elect a city council like a high school senate leaves much to be desired.


Posted by Native to the BAY, a resident of Old Palo Alto,
on Oct 12, 2022 at 11:11 am

Native to the BAY is a registered user.

@Brett Walker. Could not agree more. Many California cities are changing to district CC elections. I have a feeling our CC entirely disavows this. Why? Well just look back to last week's boon for $1000 SFH residents getting heat pumps for pennies, with a deep misunderstanding of MFH's and how this is going all electric will be integrative. They also did not speak to how much more value will be added to their properties once they have the electric heat / cooling pumps in. However this said. I would much rather the R1Zones SFH drones residents get a heat pump loosen the noose on their "character" and allow for mixed cluster infill MFH's . The 'dip" they are so paranoid about having a four flex on their street, might be made up by the increase value add with the heat pump.

[[Blogger:
SFH = Single Family Home/Housing
MFH = Multi-Family Home/Housing
]]


Posted by Online Name, a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland,
on Oct 12, 2022 at 11:30 am

Online Name is a registered user.

Thank you very much for your comprehensive and substantive piece that should be a guide to all voters skeptical about some of the hype, promises that we can have everything without regard to cost or budget and in particular your links to sources that reveal who's backing whom. Thank you also for explaining the "campaign finance reform" is worse than meaningless since it only limits contributors by indidivuals but not by businesses, paid lobbyists, PACS and other deep-pocked entities.

We indeed need to learn to evaluate critically.

I learned a new term: --An Independent Expenditure Committee (IEC) is in this election--

"The IEC Committee to Support Lythcott-Haims, Forssell, Veenker for Palo Alto City Council 2022 is going to great expense for ads for the candidates named. The people behind this committee are -- from an early ad -- Jennifer DiBrienza, John Kelly, Larry Klein, Gail Price and Steve Levy. Their endorsement for those three candidates are the vacuous "Build more housing for all income levels in all parts of Palo Alto", "Accelerate impactful climate action", and "Strengthen local economy & raise city revenue".

If I were an intrepid journalist, I would want to ask the supporters -- without expecting a credible response -- why they are collecting money to spend on advertising rather than contributing directly to the candidates for them to enhance their own advertising strategies??
Likely motivations: ..."

My only regret is that the "intrepid journalist(s)" among us have so little time left before the election to dig into funding sources and explore inflated and unrealistic campaign platforms.


Posted by Native to the BAY, a resident of Old Palo Alto,
on Oct 12, 2022 at 12:51 pm

Native to the BAY is a registered user.

"If I were an intrepid journalist, I would want to ask the supporters -- without expecting a credible response -- why they are collecting money to spend on advertising rather than contributing directly to the candidates for them to enhance their own advertising strategies??

Likely motivations: ..."@online name. I could not disagree with you more.
We have to go it together to make change. And what's wrong with building infill homes all over the city? it's already being done with SFH private properties.

I get you have a tiered argument. I really see nothing wrong with contributing to a group for ads. How do you then justify yard signs that do the same, planting singular candidate signs side by side to show force as a group. I don't get your argument at all.

Anyway I obviously am not here to convince you otherwise, I simply pointing out for others that strength in numbers matters, not financially but ideologies too. It appears that more divisionism is at hand, working together is not a cause but end result of contribution. Of "inflated ... platforms". I guess MLK "I had a dream" according to your logic, was inflated as well since it took 200 years for true Civil Rights to be law. "Rugged Individualism" was also a platform as well. Something your post seems to really adhere, admire, support and vote for. We know that was an idea too. And to our American value of detriment, degraded lives for the worse. It's condescending to ask a rhetorical question you have the answer for. Making fools from your fodder, is against the human.

[[Blogger: line breaks added for readability.
SFH = Single Family Homes
MFH = Multi-Family Homes
]]


Posted by SR, a resident of Community Center,
on Oct 12, 2022 at 2:30 pm

SR is a registered user.

The problem with "infill homes all over the city" is the State has told us "6000 units or there will be consequences." Want to get a few hundred built and Sacramento suing us? Focus on infill.

Want to get 1000s built? Focus on high rises south of San Antonio. Close to jobs, close to transit and close to parks.


Posted by Novelera, a resident of Midtown,
on Oct 12, 2022 at 2:41 pm

Novelera is a registered user.

@Native to the Bay: Your comments were interesting; but your use of describing things by letters of the alphabet has made a lot of your comments incomprehensible to me.


Posted by resident3, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood,
on Oct 12, 2022 at 2:57 pm

resident3 is a registered user.

@Native to the Bay,

"And what's wrong with building infill homes all over the city? it's already being done with SFH private properties."

I've noticed your focus on Multifamily Housing MFH and what you call "infilling" Single Family Housing SFH... and that you care about quality of life. I recommend watching the Weekly's East Palo Alto City Council debate 2022 and our neighbors have the same concerns. One issue that stands out to me is that in the "quality of life" segment, parking is mentioned by almost all candidates.

I can't reconcile the positions by candidates who want to "infill" (and this applies to any town or city for that matter) and at the same time are against projects being fully parked. All I can conclude is that they are catering to developers who want to build on the cheap and are using divisive language about SFH and morality arguments. It's bad enough to have a City government that lacks transparency or accountability and then to have Council members who have a developer constituency to serve.


Posted by Online Name, a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland,
on Oct 12, 2022 at 5:43 pm

Online Name is a registered user.

@Native to the Bay, you're conflating several issues and ignoring the main point -- ie the money flowing into campaigns from undeclared sources. Have you read "Dark Money" by Jane Mayer documenting these abuses ever since the Citizen United decision>?

"If I were an intrepid journalist, I would want to ask the supporters -- without expecting a credible response -- why they are collecting money to spend on advertising rather than contributing directly to the candidates for them to enhance their own advertising strategies??

Likely motivations: ..."@online name. I could not disagree with you more.
We have to go it together to make change. And what's wrong with building infill homes all over the city? it's already being done with SFH private properties.

***** Where did I say anything about housing? I'm questioning the lack of visibility -- ie secrecy -- of who's funding these costly saturation ads. Please respond to the points raised.

I get you have a tiered argument. I really see nothing wrong with contributing to a group for ads. How do you then justify yard signs that do the same, planting singular candidate signs side by side to show force as a group. I don't get your argument at all.

I justify the planting of candidate signs on one's own property as an indication of visible support for the candidate(s) which includes donations that can be found in public records unlike the SECRET source of the funding of the ads for the 3 Great Candidates which are not authorized by the candidates or their campaigns."


Posted by Eeyore, a resident of Adobe-Meadow,
on Oct 12, 2022 at 9:07 pm

Eeyore is a registered user.

Thank you, Mr,Moran,

A lengthy and well researched blog. It helps me make my decision.

WRT housing on the east end of San Antonio, tiredly, there is no transit, no real jobs (other than Google) and the baylands for your park. I never understood this building near transit mantra. Sadly, but realistically, we are obligate automobile drivers. Anyone without a car is socially and economically disadvantaged, even the folks at the JCC/Muldow residence have their private jitney service.


Posted by Cedric, a resident of Palo Verde,
on Oct 13, 2022 at 5:49 pm

Cedric is a registered user.

> I give zero weight to endorsements from officials and organizations.

I do the opposite. (: If I don't like someone endorsing a candidate, then that leans me against them.

> -Julie Lythcott-Haims-- Palo Alto: $31,845; Elsewhere: $34,2418
> -Vicki Veenker-- Palo Alto: $29,825; Elsewhere: $14,750
> ...
> --Brian Hamachek-- Palo Alto: $1,920; Elsewhere: $0

SHOW ME THE MONEY :D The more money a candidate raises and spends, the more they're indebted they are to other interests, even at these small amounts. I'm going with Brian as a protest vote and for other reasons. Everyone else can elect yet another politician. We'll see in a term which ones understand Palo Alto will be hit by a recession, and which ones will continue the honored Palo Alto tradition of making our fine city an expensive place to live in without realizing they're part of the problem.


Posted by Anonymous, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis,
on Oct 15, 2022 at 9:09 am

Anonymous is a registered user.

Thank you for your analysis, Mr. Moran.
Oh, how I wish for some Councils of the past...
I'm concerned busy voters will be influenced by virtue-signaling mumbo-jumbo speak of some of our current candidates. Really unfortunate.
I want substance shown by our representatives (if that is a phrase!) and caring about Palo Alto interests.
The point is to serve this major, complicated, highly budgeted city.
Screeching about random ills in the world should not be a city candidate's focus and priority.
Also: forget, already, the ridiculous idea of one weak, inexperienced candidate to build housing the the PA Baylands. I promise one heck of an opposition if you try that scheme.


Posted by Harriet Goodman, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis,
on Oct 15, 2022 at 9:14 am

Harriet Goodman is a registered user.

"Screeching about random ills in the world should not be a city candidate's focus and priority."

^ Absolutely! Keep the discussions focused on Palo Alto.

What goes on in other places of the world and country is other people's problems.


Posted by Jack Peterson, a resident of Palo Alto Hills,
on Oct 15, 2022 at 10:45 am

Jack Peterson is a registered user.

Concurring with Ms. Goodman. The PACC cannot save the entire world from climate change and perceived racism.

Resolving Palo Alto's more pressing fiscal and community services issues are all that matters.


Posted by Sherry Livingston, a resident of Menlo Park,
on Oct 15, 2022 at 12:00 pm

Sherry Livingston is a registered user.

• I'm concerned busy voters will be influenced by virtue-signaling mumbo-jumbo speak of some of our current candidates.

Climate change rantings and racial gripings have no place in the current PACC election.

Save these controversial topucs for the bigger fish...Congresspersons and U.S. Senators.


Posted by Elk, a resident of Greene Middle School,
on Oct 15, 2022 at 2:06 pm

Elk is a registered user.

Thank you for the useful comprehensive analysis. Like some other posters, certain endorsements turn me against a candidate, especially endorsements from those who assert self-proclaimed monopoly on the ultimate truths in local forums, e.g. Apparatchiks such as Linda Henegin, Chris Colohan.


Posted by Terrence Young, a resident of Los Altos,
on Oct 16, 2022 at 9:19 am

Terrence Young is a registered user.

Wow...due to Mr. Moran's comprehensive analysis of the current PACC candidates, my sister in Palo Alto has decided that NONE of them are worthy of being elected.


Posted by Kendra Taylor, a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive,
on Oct 17, 2022 at 8:12 am

Kendra Taylor is a registered user.

"...due to Mr. Moran's comprehensive analysis of the current PACC candidates, my sister in Palo Alto has decided that NONE of them are worthy of being elected."

^ Your sister is very astute. I'm not going to waste my time either by voting for any of the announced PACC candidates as there is nothing dynamic or unique about any of them.


Posted by Rachel Voorhies, a resident of Palo Alto Hills,
on Oct 17, 2022 at 9:15 am

Rachel Voorhies is a registered user.

Curious...what is the average Palo Alto voter turnout (in percentage) during these PACC elections?

If the the turnout is less than 50%, this indicates voter apathy and confirms that the PACC council members are not accepted or endorsed by the actual majority of Palo Alto residents.


Posted by Douglas Moran, a Palo Alto Online blogger,
on Oct 17, 2022 at 7:18 pm

Douglas Moran is a registered user.

@Rachel Voorhies:
Turnout of Palo Alto electorate is over 50% of registered voters -- my recollection is that it is roughly 70%, but can be affected by candidates at the state and federal elections and propositions.

Be careful how you use such stats.
• Should it be the percentage of eligible voters -- it includes people who are eligible to vote but chose to not register??
• Should it be the percentage of only voters who mark their ballots for candidates/propositions in Palo Alto?? It is widely observed across the US that as you look "down" the ballot, there are progressively fewer votes being cast.
• Non-voting is a poor proxy for apathy. For example, I get asked for recommendations for the judges on the ballot. The info provided doesn't help, unless you vote based upon what college and law school they graduated from, or the ethnicity implied by their name, or their sex/gender, or ... The very steep fall in the vote count for the judicial elections is likely a result of people abstaining because they don't have the info to differentiate the candidates, not apathy.
• Similarly, people can be dissuaded from voting by being inundated by useless info -- inadequate details and from a source that is either biased or of unknown credibility. Decision fatigue is very different from apathy.

Not to say that there isn't real apathy. There are many legitimate reasons for a person to believe that their vote won't make a meaningful difference. For example, being in a one-party state is bad enough, but it is also one that legalized virtually unlimited ballot harvesting (2016), something that was well known to facilitate "stuffing the ballot box".
Parting cynical quotes:
Emma Goldman (anarchist): "If voting changed anything, they'd make it illegal."
Stalin (totalitarian): "Those who cast votes decide nothing. Those who count votes decide everything."


Posted by Online Name, a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland,
on Oct 17, 2022 at 10:46 pm

Online Name is a registered user.

I wonder if the very contentious school board race will increase voter participation and how that will effect the City Council race.


Posted by Henrietta Johnson, a resident of Crescent Park,
on Oct 18, 2022 at 7:35 am

Henrietta Johnson is a registered user.

• "Should it be the percentage of eligible voters -- it includes people who are eligible to vote but chose to not register??"

^ This factor the one that really counts as it reflects the actual pool of eligible voters.

No wonder voter polls are always off by 4-5% and ignorable in many cases.


Posted by Robert Banner, a resident of Downtown North,
on Oct 18, 2022 at 8:30 am

Robert Banner is a registered user.

Part of the problem is that once elected, many politicians do not voice the will of their constituents, opting instead to make legislative decisions on their own.

Elected officials should be little more than robots who cast their votes or initiate legislation reflective of the majority populace who elected them.

Most politicians are no more smarter or astute than the average voter...just more conniving and compromised by special interest groups.


Posted by Arnold Jensen, a resident of Barron Park,
on Oct 18, 2022 at 9:38 am

Arnold Jensen is a registered user.

Most elected officials travel to the beat of their own drum and could care less about the will of the voters who elected them...except when re-election time comes around.

Then they play the 'I feel your pain' card' and sling the baloney.


Posted by Petra Mathews, a resident of Old Palo Alto,
on Oct 18, 2022 at 11:43 am

Petra Mathews is a registered user.

In terms of the big picture, our votes mean nothing. Voter alienation is a very real because our elected officials do as they please with minimal regard for those who elected them.

In California, nearly every local election is a foregone left-wing conclusion...with the possible exception of various rural districts and OC/SD counties.

Urban liberal do-gooders seem to get elected at ease and then proceed to screw things up even further with their extensive societal freebies and overly permissive criminal justice policies.

[[Removed sentence: Off-topic: comment on federal situation.]]


Posted by Masaad Hussein, a resident of another community,
on Oct 18, 2022 at 1:22 pm

Masaad Hussein is a registered user.

[[removed reference to the removed portion of the previous comment]]

And in local politics (most notably in smaller cities) council members operating under a city manager system aren't either [[taken seriously]].

It comes with the territory.


Posted by Online Name, a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland,
on Oct 18, 2022 at 1:25 pm

Online Name is a registered user.

[[removed: It is a response to removed portions of the previous comments]]


Posted by Gale Thompson, a resident of Charleston Meadows,
on Oct 18, 2022 at 2:25 pm

Gale Thompson is a registered user.

[[removed: It is a response to removed portions of the previous comments]]


Posted by Douglas Moran, a Palo Alto Online blogger,
on Oct 18, 2022 at 6:22 pm

Douglas Moran is a registered user.

RE: Terrence Young and Kendra Taylor on finding none of the candidates "worthy" of a vote

Candidates not being "worthy" is not a valid reason to not vote. It would be if this was an award that was optional. However, if a voter chooses to not mark their ballot for City Councilmember, three of those candidates will still be elected to the positions. That choice will go largely unnoticed because there are so many possible reasons for undervotes.

I advise looking at the options and choosing the best ones. I have largely decided to vote for two and am debating which of two others would be the better for the third seat (or "least worse", depending on your perspective).

Recognize that if everyone who shared your values of what made a candidate "worthy" didn't vote, then the candidates who won would likely be contrary to those values.


Posted by Hank Thompson, a resident of Barron Park,
on Oct 19, 2022 at 9:09 am

Hank Thompson is a registered user.

I understand Mr. Moran's viewpoint about voting for the lesser of evils but that in itself represents a compromise of sorts.

It reminds me of a former sister-in-law who once told my eldest daughter that "you marry the best provider you can stomach and then hope for the best."

Being a thrice divorcee, her approach to marriage is in many ways akin to voting.


Posted by Micah Jenkins, a resident of Professorville,
on Oct 19, 2022 at 3:49 pm

Micah Jenkins is a registered user.

"It reminds me of a former sister-in-law who once told my eldest daughter that "you marry the best provider you can stomach and then hope for the best."

^ That could turn out to be a long-term investment in time and tolerance.

My aunt once told my little sister, "You do not marry for money. You divorce for money." That makes more sense.

Back to topic, Mr. Moran offered some key voting insights and I have decided to vote for whoever he recommends as he has already done the homework.


Posted by Miranda Peterson, a resident of Professorville,
on Oct 20, 2022 at 8:41 am

Miranda Peterson is a registered user.

"Candidates not being "worthy" is not a valid reason to not vote."

^ When 2024 rolls around and if voters are given the choice of either Biden or Trump for president, a national dilemma will occur because 'write-in' candidates never win the presidency.

What do you suggest then Mr. Moran?


Posted by Robert Steele, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis,
on Oct 20, 2022 at 9:24 am

Robert Steele is a registered user.

> When 2024 rolls around and if voters are given the choice of either Biden or Trump for president, a national dilemma will occur because 'write-in' candidates never win the presidency.

^ That would be more along the lines of a national NIGHTMARE.

The upcoming PACC elections are a cakewalk regardless of who wins because it doesn't take much in terms of background and qualifications to be a city council member.


Posted by Gabriel Klein, a resident of Midtown,
on Oct 20, 2022 at 10:47 am

Gabriel Klein is a registered user.

Comparing the upcoming PACC elections to the nationwide 2022 midterm and 2024 presidential elections is both trivial and ludicrous.

There has never been a former PACC member who rose to a prominent role in U.S. politics and most likely, there never will be.


Posted by Douglas Moran, a Palo Alto Online blogger,
on Oct 20, 2022 at 2:57 pm

Douglas Moran is a registered user.

@ Miranda Peterson : re-match Biden v. Trump

That is a remote possibility. If the Democrats have to resort to Biden again, they are dead as a party. Remember that Biden didn't win the nomination because he won primaries against the competition, but because Obama and the Dem Establishment convinced the competition to withdraw as an anti-Bernie measure. If they are still stuck in that sorry state 4 years later, they are hopeless. As Obama reportedly admonished a Dem during the 2020 primaries, "Don't underestimate Joe's ability to f**k things up."

As to the Republicans, they have a similar problem. Trump is their Bernie problem. Their Establishment has shown repeatedly over the years that they would prefer an Establishment candidate win the primary and go down to near-certain defeat in the general election rather than have an insurgent candidate be elected.


Posted by Douglas Moran, a Palo Alto Online blogger,
on Oct 20, 2022 at 3:01 pm

Douglas Moran is a registered user.

> Robert Steele "... it doesn't take much in terms of background and qualifications to be a city council member."

The qualifications to become a City Council member are minimal:
citizenship, residency, and getting enough votes. However, the qualifications to be a good Council member are significant.


Posted by Jacqueline Sanderson, a resident of Old Palo Alto,
on Oct 20, 2022 at 5:20 pm

Jacqueline Sanderson is a registered user.

> If the Democrats have to resort to Biden again, they are dead as a party...As Obama reportedly admonished a Dem during the 2020 primaries, "Don't underestimate Joe's ability to f**k things up."

> "As to the Republicans, they have a similar problem...Their Establishment has shown repeatedly over the years that they would prefer an Establishment candidate win the primary and go down to near-certain defeat in the general election..."

^ Some very astute observations given the past GOP presidential candidates who lost...McCain and Romney.

As for the Democrats, the same could probably be said of Kerry and Clinton.

The upcoming 2024 presidential campaign will be quite uninspiring if Biden or Harris are Democratic Party's primary offerings

As for the GOP, it's probably going to be Trump or DeSantis because moderate (aka traditional-type) Republican candidates are as you said, un-electable (Mike Pence take note).

In 2016, I honestly thought it would be a Jeb Bush VS Hillary Clinton presidential election.

Trump changed all that and redefined the Republican Party by uniting a solid voting bloc that the Democrats once took for granted...the white working class and Hispanics.


Posted by Jacqueline Sanderson, a resident of Old Palo Alto,
on Oct 20, 2022 at 5:21 pm

Jacqueline Sanderson is a registered user.

[[This correction has been incorporated into the above comment.]]

potential > upcoming


Posted by Ceci Morales, a resident of Mountain View,
on Oct 21, 2022 at 8:52 am

Ceci Morales is a registered user.

Establishment candidates (e.g. Dole, McCain, Romney, Mondale, Kerry, Clinton etc.) offer a safe wager, like betting red or black on a roulette wheel and sometimes they win (e.g. Bush, Biden).

The safe wagers (if/when successful) generally make lousy presidents.

Tokenism (i.e. having the likes of Ferraro, Palin, and Harris) on a presidential ticket is another pathway to potential failure.

America needs more candidates who can stir things up and rock the boat (i e. Obama, Trump) to keep things interesting and relevant.

Most establishment candidates are boring and uninspiring, one reason why Herschel Walker despite his personal flaws is giving pastor and current dullard Georgia U.S. Senator Raphael Warnock a run for the money.

Perhaps the key strategy is to have a dynamic and outspoken presidential candidate with charisma along with an aggressive VP running mate to serve as a junkyard dog to vociferously chastise and criticize their opponent(s).

That is how one gets voter attention.

If Trump decides to run in 2024, he will want a running mate with far more teeth than the obsequious Mike Pence who obviously will not be chosen again.

And if Biden opts for re-election, he should dump Kamala Harris who is not presidential material in the event of his absence or passing.

So let's get on with the show...after the midterms, it's open season.


Posted by Butch Logan, a resident of Barron Park,
on Oct 21, 2022 at 9:16 am

Butch Logan is a registered user.

"Perhaps the key strategy is to have a dynamic and outspoken presidential candidate with charisma along with an aggressive VP running mate to serve as a junkyard dog to vociferously chastise and criticize their opponent(s)."

^ This approach has been utilized before except that in many instances, the presidential candidate was nothing to write home about.

The Republican Party is now the Party of Trump and one way to ensure continuity along with the strategy and advantages of having an effective henchman VP would be for Donald Trump to choose Donald Trump Jr. as his 2024 running mate.

If successful, Donald Trump Jr. could then succeed his father and run for president thus providing the nation with a potential for 12 years of Trumpian executive wing policy.

For some voters this would be a dream come true...for others, a nightmare.


Posted by Penny Beck, a resident of Adobe-Meadow,
on Oct 21, 2022 at 10:10 am

Penny Beck is a registered user.

• The Republican Party is now the Party of Trump.

Absolutely...Mike Pence and Liz Cheney are deluding themselves if they actually believe they can successfully challenge Donald Trump for the Republican presidential nomination in 2024.

On the other side, Kamala Harris is also deluding herself if she honestly believes the American public will ever ELECT her as POTUS.

Meanwhile 'Smiling Jack' (aka Gavin Newsom) is quietly plotting his political moves.


Posted by Morgan Tate, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis,
on Oct 21, 2022 at 11:10 am

Morgan Tate is a registered user.

> Robert Steele "... it doesn't take much in terms of background and qualifications to be a city council member."

>> Douglas Moran "The qualifications to become a City Council member are minimal: citizenship, residency, and getting enough votes. However, the qualifications to be a good Council member are significant."

Questions...

(1) Why are there so many 'unqualified' candidates running for PACC?

(2) What are their true objectives regarding this pursuit...networking opportunities, a profound sense of civic duty, developer kickbacks, ego/vanity?

If any/all of the above, then anyone is capable of becoming a PACC member providing they can generate the campaign funds and the endorsements.

If politics were softball leagues, the national level would be A league, state level B league, county level C league, and local municipal level (i.e. Palo Alto) D or novice league.

In other words, skill sets matter as lesser qualified players are usually incapable of performing at the higher levels.

The PACC is pure D league.


Posted by Ashley Johnson, a resident of Midtown,
on Oct 22, 2022 at 9:14 am

Ashley Johnson is a registered user.

I suspect that the majority of PACC candidates (or any city council candidate for that matter) will proclaim that they are running for council member based on a profound sense of civic duty.

Whether this is true or not remains to be seen as many council members use the position to line their pocketbooks, especially in the larger urban cities.

The cash cow in Palo Alto is clandestinely aligning oneself with pro-development interests..


Posted by Barry Jacobs, a resident of Community Center,
on Oct 22, 2022 at 10:21 am

Barry Jacobs is a registered user.

"The cash cow in Palo Alto is clandestinely aligning oneself with pro-development interests."

^ Like former PACC member and Palo Alto mayor Liz Kniss?


Posted by Jennifer Hawkins, a resident of Barron Park,
on Oct 22, 2022 at 11:32 am

Jennifer Hawkins is a registered user.

> The cash cow in Palo Alto is clandestinely aligning oneself with pro-development interests."

^ Like former PACC member and Palo Alto mayor Liz Kniss?
***********************************
The PA Weekly exposed and reported this impropriety.
Web Link

Palo Alto voters need to scrutinize who they will be voting for in the upcoming PACC election.

We do not need any compromised PACC candidates who will sell the best interests of preservationist-minded Palo Alto residents down the river.


Posted by Robert Daniels, a resident of Downtown North,
on Oct 22, 2022 at 12:14 pm

Robert Daniels is a registered user.

A clearcut position pertaining to...
1. excessive VS restricted future development in Palo Alto,
2. establishing fiscal constraints on frivolous municipal spending,
3. realistic ecological goals,
4. monitoring police improprieties,
5. standing up to the City Manager and upper tier administrative officials,

...are what I want to be fully informed of as a voter.

Unfortunately, we will most likely be fed a plethora of BS in these matters.

Politicians (local or nationwide) are never to be trusted in full as that belief is reserved for the truly gullible and/or ignorant.


Posted by Online Name, a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland,
on Oct 22, 2022 at 3:08 pm

Online Name is a registered user.

@Robert Daniels, excellent questions but what exactly is "excessive VS restricted future development"? I'm not familiar with that term.

You might be interested in Doria Sumnma's Web Link stance that "Palo Alto is a comunity, not a commodity" available to the highest bidder or deep-pocketed backers.

We've had too many candidates and council members who never met a development project they wouldn't support.


Posted by Douglas Moran, a Palo Alto Online blogger,
on Oct 22, 2022 at 3:15 pm

Douglas Moran is a registered user.

RE: Ashley Johnson and those following up on that comment

> I suspect that the majority of PACC candidates (or any city council candidate for that matter) will proclaim that they are running for council member based on a profound sense of civic duty.

You do want to elect candidates who see public office as partly civic duty and partly to deal with specific problems. Otherwise, they will not be voting for "the public good".
It's the "...will proclaim that..." that is the red flag -- it suggests that a candidate doesn't want to reveal their true intentions.

> Whether this is true or not remains to be seen as many council members use the position to line their pocketbooks, especially in the larger urban cities.

On: "line their pocketbooks": Except in very corrupt governments, my sense is that this is very rare. From what I can tell, "influencing" public officials is very subtle, often subtle enough that the official doesn't see himself as having been "influenced" but merely benefited from normal "friendships" -- actual instances at the state and federal levels. The many patterns of favor-swapping can obscure connections.

> The cash cow in Palo Alto is clandestinely aligning oneself with pro-development interests..

The issue of the rate of growth has dominated the City Council elections since at least 2014. These produced an increasing proportion of "balanced growth" Councilmembers. The amount of money going into advertising for three candidates by the Independent Expenditure Committee (IEC, aka "SuperPAC") by pro-development forces indicates how big a conflict this is -- "pro-development" inferred from the politics of the organizers of this IEC.


Posted by Evelyn James, a resident of Professorville,
on Oct 22, 2022 at 4:07 pm

Evelyn James is a registered user.

Mr. Moran,
Your key insights pertaining to the 'ins & outs' of citywide electoral campaigns are very straightforward and on point.

A Political Science professor lecturing on local politics could not have explained things any more clearer or objectively.

There are many important issues that Palo Alto residents are deeply concerned about and hopefully this upcoming Palo Alto city election will result in electees whose efforts will reflect an ongoing commitment to Mr. Daniel's aforementioned expectations of a PACC member.

I am not holding my breath.


Posted by Douglas Moran, a Palo Alto Online blogger,
on Oct 22, 2022 at 5:33 pm

Douglas Moran is a registered user.

@ Evelyn James

> "A Political Science professor lecturing on local politics could not have explained things any more clearer or objectively."

(Blush) Thank you.

The 1986 movie ^Back to School^ has a scene where a rich, obnoxious businessman, played by comic Rodney Dangerfield, is in a lecture where the professor is explaining budgeting a construction project. Dangerfield interrupts to tell him that he is missing many major real-world expenses: payoffs to the mob; to building inspectors, ...


Posted by Another Day In PA..., a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland,
on Oct 23, 2022 at 7:58 am

Another Day In PA... is a registered user.

"(2) What are their true objectives regarding this pursuit...networking opportunities, a profound sense of civic duty, developer kickbacks, ego/vanity?"

^ Just guessing...the personal satisfaction of having a direct impact on civic matters and a reinforced sense of worldly relevance.


Posted by Ken Morris, a resident of Adobe-Meadow,
on Oct 23, 2022 at 8:36 am

Ken Morris is a registered user.

>"...a reinforced sense of worldly relevance."

• Reminiscent of those running for high school student council or trying out for the cheerleading squad. Self-importance is often the key motivator.


Posted by Tiffany Kaye, a resident of another community,
on Oct 23, 2022 at 12:29 pm

Tiffany Kaye is a registered user.

@Ken Morris
Speaking as a former Big 10 college cheerleader...collegiate and professional cheerleaders are goodwill ambassadors driven by shared advocacies and an active sense of participation, no different than some esteemed city council members.

The only difference is that we do not have a say in key athletic department decisions, just our cheerleading outfits.


Posted by Alan Michaels, a resident of Community Center,
on Oct 23, 2022 at 12:47 pm

Alan Michaels is a registered user.

> The only difference is that we do not have a say in key athletic department decisions, just our cheerleading outfits.

^ That sounds a lot like the Palo Alto City Council.


Posted by Laura Schaefer, a resident of Charleston Meadows,
on Oct 23, 2022 at 3:40 pm

Laura Schaefer is a registered user.

"...collegiate and professional cheerleaders are goodwill ambassadors driven by shared advocacies and an active sense of participation, no different than some esteemed city council members."

"That sounds a lot like the Palo Alto City Council."

^ Except that the PACC cheerleaders are waving pom-poms made out of Palo Alto taxpayer dollars.


Posted by Melba Ward, a resident of Community Center,
on Oct 24, 2022 at 7:11 am

Melba Ward is a registered user.

What would be really helpful Mr. Moran is a list of the current PACC members along with a brief compilation of key PA issues and how you would grade their performances so far.

Though the grades would be subjective to a certain extent, your inherent ability to keep things in perspective would provide a valuable reference point for PA residents and voters.

And though the newer candidates running for PACC office cannot be evaluated as of yet, perhaps this would also serve as a roadmap on how to best aaddress Palo Alto's key municipal issues and problems.

Kind of like a post game sports review.


Posted by Norman Beamer, a resident of Crescent Park,
on Nov 2, 2022 at 9:10 pm

Norman Beamer is a registered user.

Some years ago I reviewed an reference that provided a comprehensive summary of redlining. Unfortunately, I don't have a cite. But although San Francisco and San Jose had redlined areas, Palo Alto and most other bay area municipalities did not.


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